‘Keep Idaho Red’ show on KIDO that ran without FCC disclosure now center of GOP feud
A radio show on KIDO, sponsored by the Idaho Republican Party, is part of a conflict between right-wing GOP Chair Dorothy Moon and more moderate Ada County GOP Chair Victor Miller.
Since 2021, KIDO has hosted a weekly Saturday morning talk show paid for and produced by former Idaho Committee Chairs Tom Luna and Miller. The show, which made no disclosures that it was paid multi-episode programming reviewed by BoiseDev, includes interviews with prominent Idaho Republican candidates, state party committee members and other players in the world of conservative Idaho politics.
Under Federal Communications Commission rules, radio and television stations are subject to a set of rules that require them to disclose paid political advertising in their online public file maintained by the FCC. Other rules require that broadcasters give equal access to the airwaves (outside of news programs) to candidates participating in a particular race.
KIDO and the Ada County GOP have not responded to questions as of the time of this story’s publication.
The online public file on the FCC website contained no ad purchases for the program, currently called Keep Idaho Red, despite FCC rules. The broadcaster uploaded retrospective contracts for 2021 and 2022 on Monday. After BoiseDev contacted station management Wednesday night, the FCC website shows the 2023 contract was uploaded at 6:47 this morning.
The 2021 contract states that the show was paid for by the Idaho GOP – Tom Luna. Only Luna’s name is listed on the 2022 and 2023 contracts. The show changed its name from Red Wave Radio to Keep Idaho Red last year when the Idaho GOP pulled the plug.
In an interview, Luna said the show has been reviewed by the Idaho Secretary of State and all finances behind the show have been properly disclosed.
“We made sure everything was fine,” Luna said. “We made sure everything was done right. That’s all I can hold on to. We didn’t just wing it and then hope we did it right. We made sure it was set up properly.”
Again asked why the show had no disclosure of who paid for the program while it was airing, Luna referred BoiseDev to the FCC.
“I’m not an expert on this and we had the experts examine it and we complied fully,” he said. “I’m telling you, you’re not an expert in this field, so talk to the experts and ask them. Talk to the FCC and get your answer from them.”
The show’s funding came to the fore Wednesday night when Moon sent a letter to all Ada County GOP district committee members alleging that the Ada County GOP had never paid its fair share of the resources that the state party spent in Idaho’s largest county. Moon said the Idaho GOP spent $84,916.97 in Ada County in 2021 and 2022, with $54,490 spent on Red Wave Radio alone.
In her letter, Moon claimed that Miller should pay half the cost of the show and didn’t live up to his end of the bargain. Luna said that was not true, no one else was ever assigned to cover Red Wave Radio’s expenses.
“[Miller]helped us talk to potential donors who would be willing to donate to the party because Red Wave Radio was one of the efforts we did and to pay for it we raised funds,” said Luna.
This could come to a head Thursday night, when Moon is scheduled to attend the monthly Ada County GOP meeting, where she will address Miller and the rest of the central committee on “budget matters.” She said the Ada County GOP owed the Idaho GOP an outstanding $32,930.
Moon takes office and announces his resignation
A series of broadcast agreements between Luna and KIDO for 2021 and 2022, obtained by BoiseDev and later uploaded to the FCC website, show the party earning $225 a week from August 2021 through the end of December this year and averaging $1,603 in 2022 Moon also forwarded a document to Ada County GOP District Committee Members that said the state party had paid $32,490 to KIDO owner Townsquare Media and an additional $22,000 a year for spent preparing the show two days a week.
The show was not previously released as paid on KIDO’s website when BoiseDev first began researching this story in late 2022, but agreements with the Idaho GOP were added to the FCC’s website on January 30.
Moon says she got wind of the Idaho GOP’s investment in Red Wave Radio and the partnership between Miller and Luna when she won the presidential election and took over in late July.
“I canceled the show in August 2022 after meeting with the previous staff and realizing it was not a good investment for the IDGOP,” Moon wrote in her letter to the Ada County GOP. “I have informed Victor Miller that I am canceling our involvement with Red Wave Radio. Victor didn’t speak to me after I canceled Red Wave Radio.”
Started under Idaho GOP, but who pays now?
She says Miller worked with Luna afterward to relaunch the show under the Keep Idaho Red name. A review of Apple’s podcasting app reveals the Keep Idaho Red Radio show beginning September 13. The show follows the same format as the previous program, and also doesn’t seem to make any disclosure that it’s a paid program, according to multiple episodes reviewed by BoiseDev.
Unlike Red Wave Radio, which had related campaign finance disclosures in the Idaho GOP’s Federal Election Commission files, BoiseDev was unable to find any public campaign finance files showing who footed the bill for the show.
There have been no payments to KIDO’s parent company, Townsquare Media, listed in the Idaho Secretary of State’s campaign funding database by the Ada County GOP Central Committee since Moon canceled the state party’s participation in the program Wednesday night.
The KIDO contracts after August 2022 are with Luna and Tom Luna & Associates.
Moon’s letter included an attachment showing an excerpt from Ada County’s November 2022 by-election report, which said one of the Central Committee’s tactics for the November 2022 election was an unidentified “radio talk show.”
BoiseDev asked Luna where the funds for the new iteration of the show were held on the Idaho Secretary of State’s website after our search failed to find the files, but he declined to provide details.
“If you go to the Secretary of State’s website, you can find them,” he said. “You are the reporter who writes about it. Do your homework. It’s all there. Instead of asking me questions that you can easily find the answers to so you can construct your story, get to the facts. You don’t have to ask me these questions.”
During the general election cycle last year, Keep Idaho Red Radio interviewed many Republicans up for re-election, including the now-ousted Laurie Lickley, Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, District 15 nominee Code Galloway, and Congressman Russ Fulcher .